Monday, September 30, 2013


This is a follow up to my redemption replacement comments on the previous post last updated 8/23/13:
I unleashed a semi-polite tirade on Joe Kellachan because he has the attitude that whatever he does to fix an admitted problem is the end all to the issue like he is knows it all and also has the attitude like these cards are coming out of his paycheck. PLEASE!!!
 First of all, he knows very little about this hobby and what REAL collectors (like myself) truly think. I mean how many times do I have to say to Topps that I HATE NOTHING MORE THAN STICKER AUTOGRAPHS? Not to mention saying that here over & over- and I know Topps has seen these posts.
Joe Kellachan tells me he's sending me three sealed boxes of cards (2013 Finest Football with ONLY sticker autographs, Topps Star Wars Galactic Files II (no autographs)???, and 2013 Bowman Platinum Baseball -33% sticker autographs) for the $140.00 in ON CARD autograph inserts he admitted he owes me and was supposed to send me, PLUS the HORRIBLE replacements I already received whether I asked for replacements OR NOT (like for the TWO 2012 Ginter Guy Bluford Autograph that I STILL WANT!) which I would have GLADLY returned to Topps and the other 2013 Allen & Ginter box he also admitted he owed me.
This is exactly what he said & my responses WORD FOR WORD (Joe's comments are regular black & red, mine are BOLD BLACK):
My responses are in black (and bold) below yours so we can keep track & thank you for your quick response.
I am sorry to hear that you feel the value of replacements were not acceptable. I just want to be clear as to what you are expecting.
That's all I want too & the LAST thing I wanted was to have to bother you again.

Point #1:
You had purchased (8) Ginter Relic Redemptions valued at $25 each, so total value is $200.00
You received from Topps (3) autos (Dale Murphy, Adrian Gonzalez & David Price) - which you feel are valued at at total of $60.00 based on condition.
We need to come to some resolution on this difference of $140.00 in value, correct?
Point #2:
You are unhappy with the FREE cards, packs we sent you.
We can certainly send you some more unopened RETAIL packs, but I think this is a first for us to have someone complain about receiving free product.
This was HARD for me to complain about, but you offered something specific that was not delivered.
You specifically told me "we have several hundred packs we can send you.". Then I get less than (100) packs AND everything else I was told by TWO people didn't happen correctly either. If this was ONLY regarding the donation I wouldn't have said one word.
I didn't tell you that I asked my friend Sy Berger in 2006 who I should ask at Topps about getting cards for my yearly donations & he told me to contact Warren Friss by e-mail. So I did, and Mr. Friss never responded to SEVERAL e-mails from 2006 and I tried again in 2007. I wouldn't dare bother Sy with this as he deserves his retirement more than any person I've ever met, so I never told him about this. In fact I never bothered him again as I got so sick soon after that it took me a few years to get my head together that my life had a death clock ticking with about 4-years left now.
Then Upper Deck started sending me cards in 2009 after I asked Richard McWilliam & he sent my request to a very nice woman who helped each year until she was let go (something that happened OFTEN to good UD employees from what I now know).
I write down everything that occurs on the phone in text files on my desktop until they are resolved. I have a Topps Redemption file that's been sitting on my desktop since 01/07/13.
Point #3:
You are unhappy with the FREE Box of Ginter we sent you. You had asked for 1 or 2 Boxes of Ginter.
We sent you one box, and you are concerned with the condition of the box (crease)? You don't mention if the packs or cards were damaged. I will personally send you an additional unopened Hobby Box of Ginter. I will not be able to send this until (9/3). So you will receive this later next week.
That's correct I asked for "1 or 2" boxes. Then you said you had no problem sending two boxes & Claudia confirmed that TWO were being sent. These were not at all free. These were to make up for the (3) Mark Barron Bowman ($15 each) Autographs, the Tim Kennedy $25 UFC Autograph, the 2011 Ginter Geno Auremmia $30 Autograph, the 2012 Ginter Rulon Gardner $25 Relic, and the two 2012 Guy Bluford ($25 ea.) Ginter Autographs that I received
cards for that I never wanted. 
I offered to send these back, but Claudia never said I should and I said "I'll just put the replacements I received in with my next donation." which she said was great. If you want these cards back I'll GLADLY send them back now.
I never had any intention of keeping them as they are all sticker autographs which I hate so much I don't even like donating them. I was lucky enough to be at Playoff when they were throwing a party for the mail room guy who came up with the idea to use return address labels for autographs (literally). So I got this guy face to face and said "if you went to a sports event and could get autographs, would you bring a sheet of address labels to get autographed?". He
said no "I'd bring cards.". So I told him "NOW YOU SEE MY POINT & THE SIDE OF EVERY TRUE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTOR". I told him he had no idea the future negative effect these things are going to cause.
Since I got very sick by 2009 and the volume of my donations went down- I felt guilty. So I went on eBay and bought lots of star player cards every year (at least $500- my cost) to "beef up" my donations. I'll pull any common duplicates I catch as I'm making boxes too. This is VERY HARD WORK for me since sitting up causes me excruciating pain after just 10-minutes maximum. But I vowed to continue donating every year until I'm dead to myself in 1989 after being so inspired by my friend Gary Carter.
I hope this will clear up some of the existing concerns you have. Our goal is to come to an amicable solution and work with you. 
We have the same goal. I tend to over explain things to avoid going back & forth too many times as I appreciate your time. This has worked well for me in the 8-years I fought fraud by card companies & price guides by interviewing hundreds and posting the results on a web site I used to have from 1997-2004. I'm sorry if I went overboard or gave you the impression that I was angry or felt that you weren't trying to resolve this. I appreciate everything you offered very much. If I would have received what was offered, you would have never heard from me again. I'm not saying that sarcastically at all.
It's hard for me to correctly state my issues with things when I'm in constant pain. So much pain that 99% of people can't even imagine my 24/7 pain- that's how my Pain Management doctor described my pain. It's so bad that I was told it's many times worse than the worst cancer pain because NOTHING stops my pain and I had to reevaluate my 1 to 10 scale at least four times since 2003 when my pain became a constant 3 out of 10 or much higher. My friends all deserted me and I have no family. All I have is helping sick children, and that has become my only reason to live. I had a great life while I was healthy & lived it to it's fullest so there's nothing to feel bad about. I just wanted you to see things from my perspective for a moment and I want to apologize for being this way.
As you can see he has very little to say. I always over-explain things so conversations don't have to keep going back & forth endlessly.
I'm not at all surprised that I got mostly crap out of all the boxes I received. You see, corporate has no access to boxes of cards other than freebies they get sent from time to time. In most cases these are overflow boxes that were at the very end of the print run and ran out of some or ALL good hits. I know this from personal experience working as a Senior Manager at Playoff when I busted them in 2001. Why else would he send me a Star Wars box??? I never once mentioned to anyone at Topps that I ever even bought one pack on non-sports!
1) What was most disappointing was the lack of ANY good cards from TWO Ginter boxes. I was lucky enough to get one Yasiel Puig base RC in one box & that's the best card I pulled out of TWO boxes! Not one NNO mini card or #/25 mini, or SSP mini, or Rip card, or Autograph, or ANYTHING!!! I pulled three common game-used baseball cards in one box and only to GU baseball cards in the other which means one box was MISSING A HIT! I did get five of the EXACT SAME MINI inserts in Codes & Ciphers (and no other mini inserts in that box): The Vonich Papers. I'm making a mini master set for a sick child as a donation, these boxes barely helped at all except for the base cards. Joe said the value of these boxes was $94.00 each??? Where he gets his info is beyond earthly explanation...
2) Next I opened the Finest box (two mini boxes): I got my best pull out of ALL the boxes in this box- a Robert Griffin III auto/jersey card #/50, BUT IT'S AN UGLY STICKER AUTOGRAPH. I gave it away already. The patch (one color)/auto was of Stedman Bailey (which is basically a common STICKER auto). And I got a REDEMPTION (to add insult to injury) of Matt Barkley's RC Refractor Autograph (STICKER OF COURSE!).  I gave that away too. Joe priced this box at $115.00, HAH???
These are glorified (2) packs boxes at $50 each, nothing more!
3) Then I opened the Star Wars box. I got an ugly Printer's Plate (far distance scene, so the plate is all smeared) and got a truly ugly Sketch card of that little yellow guy from the Mos Eisley Cantina who played the flute like instrument (the sketch doesn't even have the flute). Any semi-talented 12-year old could draw this just as well... These will be donated. Joe priced this box at $90.00...
4) Lastly the Bowman Platinum Box. The STICKER Jersey auto was Joe Panik (almost worthless), and got two BASE ON CARD autos: Peter O'Brien (how many years in a row are Topps going to make rookie autographs of guys like this? WORTHLESS) & Maikel Franco (a $15-$20 card)- THE ONLY CARD I'M KEEPING FOR MYSELF OUT OF FIVE BOXES!!!
I did get some replacement COMMONS from Duryea, PA but not one is worth even mentioning. They are ALL JUNK to me. All the game-used cards to replace my 2012 Ginter non-sport GU cards were from Triple Threads and were ALL commons that booked for $10.00. Anyone who was making master GU Ginter 2012 sets knows that those redemptions were $10+ each no matter where you bought them! So how could Topps think their card that books for $10 for a common is worth the exact same as a $10 BILL??? THAT IS INSANE! At least I got a bunch of cards to donate from Kellachan, however I could have bought all these cards I'm donating on eBay for FAR LESS than what I spent getting the redemption cards in the first place. So in the end I'm the one who lost.

Just to make sure it just wasn't my HORRIBLE luck here: I contacted over (20) big eBay sellers directly about these redemption replacements and they all are saying the same thing: "WE GOT RIPPED-OFF BIG TIME" & "We will never enter in redemptions to Topps again!".  This means they'll be selling their redemptions to unknowing collectors like you SO BEWARE!



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What Has Become of the Sports Card Hobby We Knew?


I'm sorry to be so blunt but it's true. But read on because there is good news for true collectors in this post.

SPORTS CARD FRAUD and CROOKS ARE AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH ONLINE AND THERE LOOKS TO BE NO END! eBay actually adapted itself to allow the crooks selling sports cards to basically do whatever they want as is well documented on all my eBay blogs. Card sellers charge whatever they want for Shipping & Handling (in July, 2013 I was charged over $12.00 for (10) regular sized cards with a seller whose only S&H statement said "$3.00 Economy Shipping" & his postage was under $2.50 in a USED bubble envelope!!!) and to help AWFUL SELLERS LIKE THAT ONE eBay removed the pages which made this against the rules! Those page headings used to be: FEE AVOIDANCE, HIDDEN SHIPPING FEES, and OVERCHARGING SHIPPING & HANDLING. You used to be able to put those terms in their Customer Service search box and get a direct link to a relevant page- THAT NO LONGER HAPPENS! I have direct links to those pages which no longer exist and this only changed a few months ago!

There's only one Price Guide left and it's run by corporate a-holes who don't know this hobby from a hole in the ground. The writers for Beckett are people most true hobby experts never heard of or are old Beckett writers who exchanged their morals & integrity for a continual paycheck from Beckett Media. The "NEW" Beckett (post Jim Beckett's retirement) is nothing more than a bad 2000's Tuff Stuff Price Guide. Almost no prices reflect the actual selling prices of any cards that matter (anything besides base cards and easy to pull inserts: usually more than 3 per box).
So we have a hobby with no Price Guide worth using. The result right now is sellers charging outrageously high prices and no one in their right mind is buying cards at those prices. No one is selling, no one is buying- so where does that leave the hobby. In flux, that's where. The only cards selling well on eBay are cards that start at .99 cents or close to that, but then you stand a better than 50% chance of being charged an outrageous SHIPPING fee and there's NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT THAT WILL MATTER! I have been going after the worst sellers on eBay like tntnorthnj and eBay has done NOTHING to them in the year I've been fighting to stop them! Just read their regular flood of negative/neutral feedback...
THIS IS WHAT EBAY'S RULES ARE REGARDING SHIPPING & HANDLING AS PER MY 15+ YEARS BUYING/SELLING ON EBAY AND ACCORDING TO EBAY'S SHIPPING & HANDLING SPECIALIST WHO I SPOKE WITH FOR AN HOUR IN MARCH 2013 (who few people ever got to speak with): You are only supposed to charge your actual cost for postage & supplies (if you are calculating in things that cost less than a few cents you need to STOP SELLING you cheap SOB's) plus a handling fee of .50 cents. You must find the cheapest way to do this as well which has almost always been using eBay's PRINT SHIPPING LABEL link. IT IS NOT THE BUYER'S FAULT THAT YOU ARE LAZY and/or STUPID! For instance you can buy QUALITY bubble envelopes right on eBay in lots of (25) or more for around .25 cents each WITH FREE SHIPPING! So the excuse that the seller paid $1.29 for the envelope at the Post Office is the seller's own STUPIDITY! The Post Office is the ABSOLUTE WORST PLACE to buy padded envelopes! They don't even sell bubble envelopes- which are the safest for cards. Size #000 is the best overall & will fit up to a (35) count plastic card case or (10) top-loaders.
You also must manually type all your exact rules in the item description area (to avoid problems). Since shipping a bubble envelope that weighs 3-ounces is currently $1.69 using eBay's Print Shipping Label FREE service (with Delivery Confirmation!), you must start shipping at no more than $2.50. For combined shipping you cannot exceed .25 cents for each additional card. Plus you MUST have a listed MAXIMUM shipping fee. Since you can easily fit over (20) cards of different thicknesses in a SMALL PRIORITY MAIL FLAT RATE BOX for $5.15 (FREE D/C) and the box is FREE, your maximum fee cannot be more than $5.15 and you should be GLAD the buyer bought that many cards from you!!!


Right now there are more than twice as many card sellers charging an UNLIMITED FEE for shipping. This means if they start shipping at $2.50 & .50 cents for each additional card (WHICH IS AGAINST EBAY'S RULES) you can easily wind up paying $8.00 or more for shipping and you are giving that seller more than $4.00 PROFIT from S&H FEES (also AGAINST EBAY RULES). Right now going to the Post Office to ship your cards is the WORST THING YOU CAN DO! They charge $2.97 as the STARTING shipping fee for a bubble envelope that weighs 2-ounces or less!
Many may not like what I'm going to say here, but I've always been overly honest so why stop now? The Internet had so many more honest, intelligent, caring, empathic people prior to around 2002. There were Internet ethics and etiquette that were followed by nearly everyone before 2002. By 2002 computers were getting so easy to use that every idiot finally could figure out how to work a computer (at least partially) & now they are all online which COMPLETELY RUINED a great thing! Before 2002 everyone loved learning from others, and those who were educated in any specific talent enjoyed teaching others for free. Those who taught knew what they were talking about (for the most part) and those looking to learn something could trust that the sites teaching were also (for the most part) accurate. There used to be many educational web sites, even Government site that would send you information on almost any topic you could think of FOR FREE! NOW THAT'S ALL OVER BECAUSE OF IDIOTS WHO ABUSED THE SYSTEM THAT WORKED FOR INTELLIGENT PEOPLE ONLY! All there is now is Wikipedia & how many of you donate to them whenever they ask? I DO & SO SHOULD EVERYONE WHO USES WIKIPEDIA ON A REGULAR BASIS! If they go away: the entire Internet is doomed...
Just when I thought a web site had a chance to overtake eBay's rule over sales in our hobby (COMC), they expanded TOO FAR to the point where the biggest jerks from eBay charging those CRAZY HIGH prices (that no one is paying) are all on COMC now charging the same crazy high prices. Just to keep up with the Jones'- many of the GOOD sellers from COMC raised their prices to keep up with the flood of jerks which makes no sense to me whatsoever. BTW- there are MANY sellers on COMC who have the EXACT SAME CARDS on eBay & COMC at the same time. So often cards they are selling on eBay sell and the buyers never receive their cards because they already sold on COMC for more money! This is fraud that no one predicted but MANY SELLERS are now doing! Then the poor buyers who won the card for a decent price on eBay are lied to with the lamest excuses. And once again: EBAY IS USELESS NOW IN HELPING BUYERS AVOID THIS & NEVER PUNISH THEIR BIG SELLERS ANYMORE! All you get is your money back that the seller tied up for 10-days or more & you get nothing for your wasted time and loss of a card you probably REALLY WANTED! COLLECTORS HAVE MORE POWER ON COMC, IF THE PRICE IS TOO HIGH- DON'T BUY IT! The sellers will get the message and they have to pay storage fees at COMC so the longer their cards sit & don't sell the more money they lose.   

For now everyone needs to STOP COLLECTING which means stop buying!!! BUYERS HAVE ALL THE POWER, WE JUST NEED TO USE IT!!!
I know this is much harder to do than say more than most of you know. Most collectors have invested so much of their time into learning this hobby to be a smart collector, so stopping collecting will put a hole in your life. I am homebound and bed-ridden with a terminal illness so my ONLY way to collect is to buy on eBay or COMC. So at least stop impulse buying completely and stick to completing sets that you are making for one year.




We need to regain control of the card companies as well. Even Topps has now taken advantage of redemption cards to rip us off! They created 2013 STICKER ONLY AUTOGRAPH cards that are part of no set at all to use as replacements for autograph inserts we are owed! These cards will likely never be in any Price Guide, NOR SHOULD THEY BE!!! Plus it is against Topps' leagues licensing to put prices on cards they created this year and released this year. THEY ARE DOING EXACTLY THIS by sending these cards as a "card of similar value" for ON CARD (in many cases) autograph inserts we are owed that are listed in price guides. They sent me a Doc Gooden sticker autograph FAKE CARD for a 2012 Allen & Ginter Guy Bluford ON CARD autograph I was owed when I told Topps "I will wait as long as it takes to get this autograph" as he was the first black astronaut to be in space. A life-long drug addict given in exchange for an astronaut of unquestionable ethics. You can't get Topps by e-mail AT ALL anymore and it take 20-minutes or more of holding to get them on the phone last time I tried & I am too weak from General Myasthenia Gravis (in it's worst stage) to even hold a phone for more than 10-minutes! HMMM, was I ripped off? You decide... 


After 8-months and speaking with at least six different people at Topps, I couldn't get anyone to do the right thing with my long overdue redemptions, or they'd just outright LIE to me. So at 3AM or so a week ago while I was on one of my often three day insomnia binges I decided to call Topps and browse their phone directory to see if I could find an Executive to leave a message for regarding this fiasco. This was a longshot that I thought would never work based on everything else I had gone through with Topps since Jan 7th 2013.
I found one and three days ago I got a call from a Topps Production Manager. He said he was asked by the Executive to call me. He said he was very sorry for everything I had gone through and he will make sure this gets fixed correctly. He sounded very sincere and said a woman would call me in a few days to sort out what I'm owed and what I will be happy with as replacements.
Sure enough, the next day this woman called and also sounded truly caring and honorable. THIS IS WHAT I EXPECT FROM TOPPS!!! I truly hope that this will again be the way Topps handles Customer Service issues again for everyone.
She called me so fast that I didn't even have time to think about what I wanted- but I'm kind of glad that happened. I decided to give everything I get to my Pain Management psychologist's niece who's dying from a rare form of Pulmonary Hypertension. I was still owed (11) redemptions that were passed the Time2Swap date. And there were the (5) redemptions I received absolute junk common RC's from THREE years ago for. Eight of them were for 2012 Ginter Relic cards that I was making a Master Relic Set for the terminally ill young girl I've been buying for since she was 8-years old, she's now 14 and is still very sick but thank goodness she's still here with us. Doctors said she'd never live anywhere near this long, so I can only hope that the cards are helping keep her alive which only inspires me to get her more. So I asked for two boxes of 2013 Allen & Ginter for her. Then they said they were going to send several autographs for me & her. And the Production Manager who first called said they have hundreds of returned product packs they'd like to send me for my next yearly donation. The woman I spoke to also stated this. She told me to give her a few days to get everything together and then I'll be receiving several boxes.
The today 8/23 I received two boxes from Topps: AGAIN SUPER FAST!!! I received one of the Ginter boxes and about (80) loose packs and two (800)-count boxes with loose cards. I'm sure they wanted to get me something as fast as possible once they checked their records and saw what I told them was 100% true how many times I spoke with Customer Service since January which accomplished nothing but more headaches.


I was lucky enough to tell the mail room employee exactly this at Playoff who created this idea in January, 2001. I was present for his "Thank you" party thrown for his "brilliant" idea at Playoff in June, 2001. I told him his idea will kill the collecting of these cards eventually and true autograph collectors will never take to this idea which they never did, like myself. I have been collecting autographs since 1989.
More coming as I am able. I'm always here to help a fellow collector. It may take a few days, but I ALWAYS respond to all e-mails.
James McCay aka Cardcop -since 1997 (the one & only)